Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty pressed pro-life issues in a speech in Iowa yesterday that is seen as an outlining of some of the themes he is expected to run on once he announces his expected presidential campaign this Spring.
“I have strong views about faith and families and matters relating to traditional marriage and being pro-life and other issues,” Pawlenty said. “As I discuss those, and I try to influence and persuade other people to join my cause. I try to do it in a way that is thoughtful and civil and respectful.”
“I don’t want a culture that devalues life or discounts life or shoves life aside,” Pawlenty said. “I am proud to say I am pro-life.”
“(It is) hard to have family life unless you respect life,” Pawlenty said. “It says in our founding documents and in the Bible that we are to respect life, not destroy life. First and foremost we don’t want to be a country that turns away from God, we want to be a country that turns toward God. Acknowledging God, turning toward God not turning away from God is an important starting point for all these values.”
After the speech, reporters asked the former governor and state legislator whether he thought he could win the Republican nomination if he decides to run for it.
“Yes of course,” Pawlenty said, according to CNN. “If you’re not willing to stand by your values, what’s the point in doing it anyhow?”
“This notion that if you’re pro-life you can’t get elected, it’s not true, even in Minnesota,” Pawlenty said after his speech. “The goal here isn’t to dilute what we believe in an effort to try to get support from the other side. The goal is to make sure that we stay true to what we believe, our core values and our core principles.”
Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive officer of sponsoring group The Family Leader, sponsored the event with Pawlenty — which is the first in a series of speeches his group will sponsor with various potential Republican presidential candidates. Pawlenty stopped in Sioux City, Pella, and Iowa City as part of the forum the pro-life group sponsored.
Rice University sociologist D. Michael Lindsay told RD magazine after the speech that Pawlenty has the ability to appeal to a large swath of Republicans because he is genuine.
“He’s seen as a fresher face. He’s not a brash or harsh evangelical. He seems to embody this… authentic Christian faith. Evangelicals, if anything, have become well-trained on picking up on religious phonies
Pawlenty crafted a strong pro-life record as governor of Minnesota that will appeal to GOP voters in early primary and caucus states like Iowa, South Carolina and Florida.
Pawlenty also signed into law the Positive Alternatives program passed by the state legislature in 2005 with the support of pro-life groups. The law, which provides state funding for pregnancy centers that help women with pregnancy support and abortion alternatives, has already proven successful in lowering the number of abortions.
The Minnesota Department of Health shows 13,037 women received services from the Positive Alternatives grant during the second grant cycle of the program, running from July 2008 through June 2010. More than 12,000 pregnant women were helped during the first two-year grant cycle, July 2006-June 2008. The Pawlenty-supported positive alternatives program is credited with dropping Minnesota abortions, in 2009, to the lowest point since 1975.
In April 2010, Pawlenty declared the month as Abortion Recovery/Awareness Month to help women negatively affected by their abortions.
Pawlenty also pleased pro-life advocates on bioethics issues by vetoing the Kahn-Cohen Cloning Bill in May 2008, which would have legalized human cloning and forced taxpayers to pay for the destruction of human life. He also signed, in May 2009, a bill to ban taxpayer funding of human cloning.